Issue July 30, 2013

Me Vs. Music

The road to somewhere

As I drove away from my mother’s condo, I sighed. This is the first time my son has been with a sitter. I turn up the radio to nearly full volume and pretend it’s 1992. Typically, as I listen to music in my car, I sing and dance but stop and play coy when I pull up next to others. Not tonight. I’m free. I hope the kid is all right.

My friends and I are going to see David Byrne and St. Vincent. We’re all kind of lukewarm about the concert, but I’m excited to have a night to be an adult. When we get to the Kentucky Center for the Arts, we park in the garage, because we are grown-ups; the free street parking has already been taken by the young. We happily park in a spot so near the venue the heels I’m awkwardly wearing will not hurt my feet, and I can walk to the bar without hobbling.

I see a fellow new mom walking in with the same wild-eyed look of freedom. We hug, both talking excitedly about our kids getting “older” and the joys of being able to finally get a real drink. This is the kind of show where I can see lots of people I know and participate in something outside of shaking rattles and changing shitty diapers.

When the show starts, I’m absorbed in a few realities. We have great seats. David Byrne, though aging, still looks cool and still has the balls to dance awkwardly and make it a thing. St. Vincent scooted around the stage like a broken wind-up toy, mimicking Byrne at times. I realize that while I have been struggling these past months to write anything, there is still the hope that one day I will be able to create again. Look at Byrne — he’s been at this for damn near 40 years and still finds a way not just to be relevant but to be good. No, great.

The show was unexpected for me. I figured I’d like it a little but be bored much of the time. I was not: I danced, I tapped my feet and I sang. I giggled with my friends as we wondered what would happen if Byrne were to die on stage during a number where the band lies on the floor and then gets up and walks off while he remains unmoving. We wondered if they’d notice or wait until he missed his cue to check on him. It struck us as both kind of funny and awful.

I realized music still has value for me. I went to this show without knowing every song from their album. I didn’t need to know the record to realize these were quality songs that had meaning and were crafted well. This was not Aerosmith writing “a new song” no one cares to hear. This was a good body of work brought to life by real artists.

Two-thirds into the show, I texted my mom to ask about my kid, and thankfully, she ignored me. I needed to stay focused.

I got a few things out of tonight. I got to be a grown-up without a baby bag. I got to drink a bourbon and Coke. Most of all, I got to see someone legendary present a legitimate work of art. I looked at David Byrne and felt sure he’s experienced a block in his creative life. The difference, it seems, between him and me, is that his art is an occupation. If he wants to eat, he has to create. Maybe that’s my lesson. I need my art to be crucial. It should be. I would not still be here, nor have my son, were it not for what writing has given me.

I had a dream about turning in a two-weeks-notice on a job. I was looking at the letter of resignation and feeling fear about handing it in. I was leaving to “take a leap of faith.” I have no idea what that leap was to be, because as I walked into the HR office, I woke up. I woke remembering I needed to take a leap of faith. I have a lot of work to do, but maybe that leap will help me get my words back.

Erica Rucker is a freelance weirdo, writer and professional wedding/portrait photographer at eElaine Photography.